On a ranked list of the Academy Awards’ litany of (insignificant) sins, the dominance of closing-credit songs over the Best Song Category is at the tippy-top of my own personal grievances.
Your thoughts on the matter (if you’re enough of a nerd to have any) probably boil down to how individually you evaluate the work eligible in a category: as standalone entities irregardless of their place in the movie, OR — my preferred approach — with an eye towards how they’re used in the movie, and the importance of their role in contributing to what the movie is trying to achieve.
As much as the last note of a movie — in this case, literal musical notes! — obviously affects the viewer’s final conception, how many of these viewers listen to only half the song, on their way out the theater (or, god forbid, as they click out of the movie online)? As opposed to a song that’s played during the movie, where the context of the story at that moment informs the number, a closing song — almost by definition — is more of a standalone unit; it operates in conjunction with the whole movie, but the relationship is more dueling essays than an active conversation. On the flip side, a song that appears in the movie proper isn’t merely a capper; it’s one amongst many building blocks within the movie’s artistic calculus.
If a voter were to cue up these songs outside of the movies themselves, it stands to reason that a more independent closing-credit song would make a lot more sense on its own.
Well, an unlikely new movie splits the difference:
Maybe I Do tacks its starry original song — Ruth B.’s “Always You” — onto the opening credits. To ensure the audience’s focus, we hear the song without looking at any visual distractions; it’s accompanied by nothing besides the billing’s white text over a totally black screen. Heck, the song even gets its own title card in the opening credits!
Need I point out the artistic centrality of a movie’s introduction, our segue into its world from our own?
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first and last time that Maybe I Do will be mentioned in any Oscars talk.